Officials talk ‘State of the Lakes’ at annual address
Lakes Area leaders came together to discuss the “State of the Lakes” during the annual address and Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon last month.
Dignitaries included: Commerce Township Supervisor David Scott, Walled Lake Mayor Linda Ackley, White Lake Township Supervisor Rik Kowall, Wixom City Manager Clarence Goodlein, and Village of Wolverine Lake President Pro Tem Brian Nedrow.
First up was Commerce Township Supervisor David Scott. He primarily spoke about the township’s understaffed fire department, something he focused on during his campaign last fall. In addition to 18 career firefighters, the township has just 19 paid-on-call firefighters. According to Scott, the township has applied for a SAFER Grant to hire 18 new firefighters.
Additionally, Scott spoke about the 44 marijuana grow operations that currently exist in Commerce Township, calling them a “scam” and “organized crime.”
“The sheriff ’s department raids them regularly. Today, they’ll do a raid. Tomorrow, they’ll be back planting seeds to grow more marijuana than could serve any one patient,” he said. “We did a raid recently and we had five Cuban nationals from Miami growing marijuana in Commerce Township to export back to Miami.”
“Right now, it’s organized crime and we’re in the middle of it,” he continued. “It’s a problem and everybody needs to wake up and realize what’s going on.”
Walled Lake Mayor Linda Ackley, who spoke about Walled Lake’s “road to recovery,” took the stage next.
“Our recovery roadmap had multiple stages and we have successfully navigated most of them, and we’re continuing to navigate in a positive direction,” she said.
Part of the city’s “recovery roadmap” included bringing operational expenditures in line with annual revenues, eliminating debt increased in pension and retiree obligations, and a complete overhaul of the organizational structure and staffing of the city.
Infrastructure projects were prioritized with a secondary objective of limiting financing. Main thoroughfares were repaired, and sidewalks were extended and repaired. Additionally, the city is currently in the process of a stormwater system analysis, and recently discarded an $8 million plan to build a city hall complex on Maple Road instead readjusting their focus on rehabilitating the existing public safety campus.
“We have our naysayers, but everyone must admit, the city today looks better from every angle,” Ackley said. “Our goals are clear and we will continue on the roadmap to recovery and to completion.”
White Lake Township Supervisor Rik Kowall spoke of growth, including high-profile developments within the township such as the Kroger Marketplace, as well as Hobby Lobby and Ulta at Elizabeth Lake Road and M-59, and Redwood Corporation’s development of 140 units at M-59 and Bogie Lake Road.
Additionally, he talked about infrastructure improvements, including the township’s recent purchase of 25 acres of property for a future combined campus, and possible sewer expansion.
Wixom City Manager Clarence Goodlein, who spoke on behalf of Mayor Kevin Hinkley, talked about city successes and economic development.
Since last year’s State of the Lakes address, developer Roberson Brothers have constructed 45 new homes in the city, with plans for 40 more and 18 townhouses planned for this year. Additionally, automotive supplier TREMEC announced a $54 million investment into a Wixom facility, bringing 80 manufacturing and 50 hightech professional degree jobs to the area.
To facilitate economic development and growth, the city embarked on a program to improve roads. This year, they will begin a plan for more than $9.5 million in road reconstruction over the next 10-15 years, and will identify partners to secure funding for the widening of Beck Road from Pontiac Trail to I-96.
Brian Nedrow, Village of Wolverine Lake council president pro tem, provided a basic overview of work at the village, going over council’s January work session. Highlights included plans to update the master plan for Clara Miller Park, implementing pedestrian pathways down the South Commerce Road corridor, reviewing staffing levels with DPW and police, and creating a five-year road plan.